A woman walks across a wooden footbridge between trees at Myakka River State Park.

Myakka Canopy Walkway | Exploring Florida's Myakka River State Park

On the canopy walk you'll experience forest treetops up close, along with panoramic views of Myakka River State Park. Plan a visit with our guide to this unique Florida trail.

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A wooden footbridge suspended between two towers through the trees.

QUICK OVERVIEW

Hours | Open 365 days a year from 8 AM - sunset

Cost | $6 per vehicle (2-8 people)

Trail length | 0.3 - 0.9 miles

What is the Canopy Walkway?

Myakka River's canopy walkway is a suspended walking trail that gives you a unique perspective through the treetops. Connecting two towers, the walkway is basically a wooden footbridge 25 feet above the ground.

The walk begins on the shorter tower. It's a 100 foot span that will literally take you through the trees. At one point you'll need to duck to get around a tree trunk.

On the other side is a 76 foot tall tower. The view from the top is an unobstructed panorama of the surrounding forest, with the Myakka River just barely peeking out among a clearing.

Looking up from the ground at a tall wooden tower through the treetops.A woman walks away from the camera down a wooden bridge through trees.

It turns out this structure is actually the first public treetop trail in North America and it serves more of a purpose than just attracting visitors to the park.

Inspired by the canopy walkways throughout South and Central America, it was constructed as an outdoor laboratory. Getting a close look at all of nature's activity this high up can be difficult and costly. These canopy walks give researchers a way to observe and study plants and animals who live dozens of feet up in the air.

Information boards around the base of the towers give you facts and insight into how the walkway was built and is currently being used. There's even a map showing all of the other canopy walkways throughout the world.

A ground level view of the Myakka River canopy walkway with a bridge suspended between two towers.

Walking Among the Treetops

Getting to the canopy walkway at Myakka is simple.

The state park itself is located just outside Sarasota, Florida, about a 30 minute drive from the city.

A one mile drive down the park's main road will deliver you to the trail's parking area, which is tucked back in among spreading live oak trees. You'll be fully immersed in the forest here, from the moment you choose your parking spot.

The official name of the trail that begins here is the William S Boylston Nature Trail. It's a 0.9 mile loop that meanders through a heavily shaded oak and palm hammock. The walkway is only 0.1 miles down the trail, if you begin on the right hand side of the parking lot.

Many visitors will make it here and then turn back, but you should at least continue on and complete the shortcut loop, which is only 0.3 miles. With virtually no elevation change, it's a peaceful walk on compacted dirt, where you can look at and read about sabal palms, live oaks, air plants, and various species of ferns.

You can also try to spot some of the local wildlife, which includes bald eagles, osprey, and sandhill cranes.

Close up on the center of a large palm frond.A branch covered in small ferns and other plants with a palm tree in the background.

Start the canopy walk by climbing a few stairs up the shorter tower.

The walkway isn't long, so take your time as you stroll through the canopy, taking in the sights and sounds. And be prepared to steady yourself. There's plenty of handrail to grab onto, but the walkway is suspended in such a manner that it will move some under your feet.

It's more than 100 steps up to the top of the observation tower on the far side.

If a fear of heights or health concerns prevent you from going all the way to the top, you can head down to relax on one of the benches at the bottom.

But if you do get to the top you'll be rewarded with a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding forest.

You're not far from the Myakka River or the Upper or Lower Myakka Lakes, but the trees here are so dense that it'll be difficult to single out much else.

Looking down the winding set of stairs of a wooden observation tower as a woman descends.
A woman walking down a wooden bridge towards an observation tower.View from the top of an observation tower with viewing binoculars in the foreground.

Planning Your Visit

Before heading out to Myakka River, check the Florida State Parks website for current advisories and the most up-to-date information. Seasonal conditions can affect the availability of watercraft rentals, boat tours, and even fresh drinking water.

You can visit the park year-round, beginning at 8 AM. An entrance fee of $6 per vehicle (only $4 for single occupant vehicles and $2 for cyclists or pedestrians) is paid at the ranger station.

If you want to spend more time exploring the area or would like to visit the canopy walkway outside normal hours, there's a campground inside the state park. RV and tent sites with full hookups start at $26 per night.

Leashed dogs are allowed in the park and on the Boylston Nature Trail, but they're not permitted on the canopy walkway structures.

The best time to visit Myakka River is during the milder and drier winter months. From November through April the average high remains comfortable, in the 70s. Lower water levels make this an excellent time to go bird watching.

Keep in mind this is also peak season, with plenty of visitors coming to escape winter elsewhere. Try to plan your visit early or on a weekday to avoid crowds.

More Things To Do at Myakka River State Park

The Deep Hole

A hike you don't want to miss while you're here is Myakka's Deep Hole. It's a 4.4 mile round trip on a hot and sandy path. Though it's almost entirely flat, the loose sand will make walking more difficult, putting this trail just over the line from easy to moderate.

Though the hike itself isn't spectacular, the goal is to make it out to the water filled sinkhole, where dozens of gators can sometimes be found gathering to feast on the fish that get trapped here.

The catch is that a free permit is required and only 30 of them are handed out each day. Depending on the day and time of year, you'll need to arrive early to secure your spot.

An alligator laying on the side of a body of water at the Deep Hole in Myakka River State Park.

The Birdwalk

The open marshy floodplain of the Birdwalk is a premium place to spot wildlife. Not only are herons, eagles, anhingas, and osprey common, you're also likely to see alligators, softshell turtles, and other reptiles.

An osprey perched on a palm tree.

Biking

There are seven miles of paved roads within the park where you can tour around on a bicycle. In some areas, bikes are allowed off-road, but you can expect to encounter some sand, mud, or even flooded trails during the wet summer months.

Single and tandem bikes are available to rent through the state park's Outpost concessions building, starting at $15 for two hours.

If a guided tour is of interest, we recommend checking out this 2.5 hour E-bike tour, which also includes the canopy walk.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Whenever we're in Florida we can't pass up an opportunity to get out in the sun and on the water. Kayaks and canoes can be rented by the hour at the Myakka Outpost for a paddle around Upper Myakka Lake. Rates are $20 for the first hour and $5 per hour after that.

Want to do the Canopy Walkway? Pin it for later!

A woman walking across a wooden footbridge through trees with text overlay that says 'Exploring Myakka River's Canopy Walk'

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